Directed by Wong Kar Wai
Starring Tony Leung, Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li, Carina Lau
Reviewed by Kenneth Lyen
Rating: 3 out of 4 stars
(Beware of spoilers)
2046 is a film about loneliness, longing, and the futility of escaping from the fetters of past memories.
The version I saw in Singapore is the same as the one shown in Shanghai, and differs from the Hong Kong version in that the steamy bed scene with Carina Lau is deleted, and the dialogue is in Mandarin.
The significance of the title is explained by the Hong Kong director, Wong Kar Wai, in an interview with The Guardian. When Hong Kong was handed back by the British to China in 1997, the Chinese government promised that there would be no change for 50 years. 2046 is the last year of this promise.
In the film Tony Leung plays a newspaper journalist who is trying to write a science fiction novel entitled 2046. It is the year where time travelers can go to find lost memories, the year when time might stand still. Who knows what 2047 will bring?
2046 is also a room number in a sleazy hotel where protagonist Tony Leung first met Maggie Cheung in their earlier film "In the Mood for Love" (2001). It is the same room where he brings a drunk Carina Lau to sleep, but when he returns a couple of days later, she is no longer there, having been stabbed by a jealous boyfriend. Carina first appeared with Tony in the film "Days of Being Wild" (1991) and "Ashes of Time" (1994), both directed by Wong Kar Wai.
The room is later occupied by a dance hostess and prostitute, played by Zhang Ziyi. Tony Leung had wanted to take room 2046 in the hope of reliving his memories of Maggie Cheung, but settled for the room opposite, number 2047. He notices the number of male clients that Ziyi brings to her room, and he can hear the bed springs oscillating. He invites her to be his drinking partner. But when he tries to force a gift onto Ziyi, he is met with a slap on the face. This provokes Tony into a teasing verbal sparring with her. His persistence leads not only in her acceptance of the gift, but also himself as her new lover. Unfortunately Ziyi makes the mistake of falling in love with Tony, because he only views her as a temporary diversion. Heartbroken she moves out.